You may have read last week that there was talk of a change in the qualifying procedure at Monaco this week. It seems the increased number of cars has everyone concerned for back markers and traffic and with good reason.
Monaco is more principle than practical at this stage in F1 as the cars have been likened to riding a bicycle in a bathroom and that analogy isn’t far from the truth.
With six additional cars on the grid this year, it is certainly understandable that drivers would be concerned about traffic. Compounding the issue is that these six news cars are markedly slower than the main field and this will add an element of danger to the traffic issue.
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) had been discussing the splitting the qualifying session into two segments of 12 cars. The dissenting voice was that of Tony Fernandes, team boss of Lotus Racing.
“There was talk today at FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association) of having a split qualifying, going into a hat with 12 in one and 12 in another,” Fernandes told Reuters in the Spanish Grand Prix pitlane.
“I said no. We want the race to be exciting, we want to be unpredictable so let qualifying be the same as well.
“I have been in Formula One for seven months now and these guys are very good drivers and they are paid to drive well,” added the Malaysian.
It seems that the FOTA chairman, McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, feels that the qualifying procedure will remain unchanged and that a shake-up in the historically processional race might be what is needed.
“There are those who are concerned about the safety and the randomness of it,” he told Reuters.
“The counter flip is that the sport needs a bit of a shake-up and if there are problems and issues in qualifying and that influences the grid then it means the teams will have to deal with that in the race and that’s good for the show.”
The series has fallen under serious scrutiny of late as to its processional feel and lack of overtaking and perhaps Whitmarsh is suggesting that the random nature of Monaco and the increased traffic as well as slower cars could add to the excitement.
Like many drivers and teams, the prevailing notion is that there is certainly a danger in the new teams pace and that the slower cars pose a serious threat to racing on a normal circuit but at Monaco–due to it’s tight, blind corners–this is especially difficult.
Perhaps Thursday’s free practice will shed some light on the issue but there is also some concern over the Blue Flag system as well. The slow cars have made the Blue Flag system (waved at slower or lapped cars to make room for leaders or faster cars) a continuous affair during a grand prix.
While some feel the Blue Flag system is antiquated or detrimental to the racing as it hampers the slow teams even more, I surmise that the system will be critical at Monaco. Safety is paramount in F1 and flagging slow cars or controlling traffic will be the biggest challenge for race stewards this week.
What do you think? Should they change the qualifying system for Monaco to accommodate the increased traffic and slower cars? Let us know your thoughts below.